Home > PRIME YEARS > Environmental Health > Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning


What is Carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon monoxide poisoning is type of poisoning caused by exposure to carbon monoxide for certain amount of duration and concentration. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause sudden medical problem and death. In severe cases it can lead to chronic and persistent mental and physical defect.


How do I know that I’m suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning?

Sign and symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning varies according to severity of the problem. It symptoms are vague and can be confused with other health problem. Common symptoms include :

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Confusion
  • Fitting
  • Coma

People who are sleeping may die from carbon monoxide poisoning without having any symptoms.


What are the worst conditions that can occur due to carbon monoxide poisoning?

Acute complications include

  • Heart attack
  • Convulsion
  • Coma
  • Death

Delayed complications include;

  • Memory impairment
  • Nerve damage

Susceptible group

Am I at risk of getting carbon monoxide poisoning?

All people are at risk of getting carbon monoxide poisoning if they are expose to the gas. However, certain groups are more susceptible to develop the health effects. The groups include;

  • Elderly
  • Children
  • People with respiratory and heart problem
  • People with anemia
  • People with seizure

How can I get expose to carbon monoxide gas?

Many activities in our daily life can produce carbon monoxide gas. These include;

  • Cooking with stove, firewood, oven, or any burning materials.
  • Motor vehicle exhaust

DANGER: carbon monoxide from these sources can build up in enclosed environment.


How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

“Prevention is better than cure”. Especially to those who are classified as high-risk groups, they are advisable to be aware of such possibilities. Here are some prevention tips :


  • Open windows while cooking
  • Maintain your car engine regularly
  • Maintain your fuel-burning appliances
  • Maintain your furnace
  • Install exhaust fan in your kitchen or in enclosed garage


  • Leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle with engine running.
  • Run a motor vehicle, or generator in closed garage.
  • Sleep in car with engine running
  • Modify your vehicle exhaust
  • Cook using camping stove in closed camp.

What should I do if I have signs of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Remember the following tips;

  • Get out of the enclosed space
  • Turn off burning appliances or furnace
  • Open all the windows
  • Keep your self calm; avoid panic and limit physical activities as it will worsen the condition
  • Call for medical help if condition worsen

Seek medical advise immediately if you have the following warning signs :

  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Confusion
  • Fitting

Who should I consult?

Further information can be obtained from your doctor at;

Environmental Health Unit
Disease Control Division
Ministry of Health Malaysia



Last Reviewed : 26 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Norlen Mohamed
Reviewer : Dr. Marzida Abd Latib